In 2009, Rodney Cook’s life could have been well and truly over.
Disabled by serious mental health problems derived from a combination of personal problems and issues from working over 20 years as a correctional officer, Rodney saw no light at the end of the tunnel.
“I don’t remember too much of the night in question,” Rodney explained. “They say the mind shuts out certain things especially in times of trauma or pain. I do remember thinking at the time that I had sunk into this big black hole that looked like I would never climb out of.
“I remember thinking at the time that no one was around and that this was the end.”
Miraculously, help arrived and fortunately, Rodney survived.
“A mate picked up on a text that I sent him and he found me a couple of hours later. I wasn't expected to live, but they got me to hospital and I got the help I so desperately needed.
“They [the doctors] were pretty sure I wouldn't last the night so they got a Priest in to give me a last blessing. But I pulled through and with the love and care of my wife, family and friends, I slowly recovered.”
In one almighty lack of judgement, Rodney’s life could have been over, but in hindsight, he believes the situation could have been avoided altogether if he had of reached out and expressed how he was feeling to at least one of the many people who love and care for him.
“I worked in a job where there was constantly mental and sometimes physical stress, but any sign of weakness was not a trait you wanted your workmates or peers to see,” he said. “If you had a mental health issue, you certainly didn't talk about it to your mates and definitely not to your partner. As most men do, they suffer in silence and put up a brave face, but in the background they are slowly breaking down into a shadow of their former self.
“My message to all men and women out there is that silently living with some sort of mental health issue is dangerous. Seek out help; there are multiple groups around like beyondblue that you can talk to or call your mates, have a chat, let others know how you feel especially your loved ones. We are all human and our ‘ups and downs’ are the same no matter our gender, race etc.
“It was only after my breakdown and diagnosis where I was forced to open up to mental health professionals that I became comfortable enough to start to open up to family and friends.”
In addition to opening up about his feelings, the other factor in Rodney’s recovery was to re-immerse himself in the sport that he so dearly loves: triathlon.
“I have been involved with Triathlon as a competitor since 1991 and coach since 1995 and have loved every minute of it.
“The change really came after I saw my private doctor, who I had known for many years, who advised me to get back into physical activity. So after a long, hard comeback, I started training again and started feeling better about myself and started to talk amongst my training partners and friends.”
It was upon his return to racing that Rodney became aware of the #TriBuckLietst campaign.
The #TriBucketList campaign is derived from the Community Sports Link Program between beyondblue and Triathlon NSW that allows for ANYONE to raise money for beyondblue at ANY of Triathlon NSW’s sanctioned events.
“I made a promise to myself that I would somehow make a change in people’s lives by spreading my story and giving back to the Triathlon community. I have wanted to do something for a while, but wasn’t quite sure where to start, so when the opportunity came up with Triathlon NSW and beyondblue, I thought it was my time to come out and tell my story, raise some funds, but more importantly, get people talking about this important issue.
“The feedback has all been positive; I have connected with several athletes and friends that I had no idea were having a problem, and one who once trained with us, but has since had issues and didn’t think he could return to training, but after a chat over coffee he has started training again and is already feeling better.”
“I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to get on board and support the #TriBucketList campaign. If I can do it with a few health issues that give me grief from time to time, then anybody can!
“I’ll be raising funds up until the Port Macquarie Ironman on the 17th of May  which I hope to make my course PB.”
To join Rodney and help support and raise money for beyondblue, you can create your own Everyday Hero Fundraising Page today at http://www.beyondbluefundraising.org.au/event/triathlonnsw.
To find out the date and location of upcoming triathlons head to: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-involved/fundraise-for-us/run-for-team-beyondblue or http://calendar.triathlon.org.au/ CLICK HERE to join your local triathlon club.
The beyondblue Support Service is available by phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM-12AM AEST) or email responses.